With just five games to go in the season, it’s time for teams to make their move in the FNSW League One Men’s as Round 26 approaches.
Our match of the round could well be the match of the season as Bonnyrigg White Eagles and St George FC face off. We preview that game and more across the weekend.
Match of the Round: Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v St George FC; Saturday 29 July, 7pm, Bonnyrigg Sports Club
We’ve been looking forward to this one, Bonnyrigg White Eagles host St George FC in a massive clash with top two ramifications.
Both sides in good form, Bonnyrigg White Eagles secured a victory over Central Coast United while St George left it late to overcome Rydalmere Lions last weekend.
Last week was a good one for Bonnyrigg White Eagles. A positive result over Central Coast United has them closing in on Hills United.
Still there is improvement to be had and they’ll be chasing a 90-minute showing here. Emmanuel Gonzalez is on a scoring run up front and he’ll be up against a former side of his here. While last week was the first time they conceded in four weeks.
If anyone is going to pull it off though, it could well be St George FC who are on a streak of their own. Thirteen points in their past five games has them sitting four points below their opposition this weekend.
Last weekend, they featured in an entertaining contest with Rydalmere Lions, playing at close to their best in the first half without reward before claiming a winner late. That winner coming through Justin Poon who joined Evangelo Souris and captain Troy Danaskos among the goals. A result here will turn the race for the top two on its head.
All set up for a cracking fixture, make sure you head out to Bonnyrigg Sports Club or catch it live on NPL.TV.
Central Coast United FC v SD Raiders FC; Saturday 29 July, 5pm, Pluim Park
It’s SD Raiders turn to make the trip up the motorway to take on Central Coast United, which kicks off round 26 action at Pluim Park.
The pirates have lost their past two games including last week to Bonnyrigg White Eagles, while SD Raiders had an entertaining draw with Bankstown City.
Central Coast United have five games left to secure their status in the division (seven if they qualify for the playoff). And with a couple of tough games following this one, this stands as an important fixture at home.
Last weekend, they were solid yet unspectacular going down to Bonnyrigg White Eagles last weekend. Josh Swadling scored a goal with a bit of good fortune to it however he stands as a player to watch in this one.
With 40 points so far this season, SD Raiders sit comfortably in mid table ahead of this one. One win in their last five has seen them drift away from the race at the top and they find themselves in their worst run of the season.
Last weekend, they played an entertaining match of the round against Bankstown City. A game of two halves, they were good in the first half but there was a bit to be desired in the second. Sebastian Malfara picked up a couple of assists with his set pieces last weekend, so keep an eye out for him.
Hakoah FC v Northern Tigers FC; Saturday 29 July, 5pm, Hensley Athletic Field
Two well established sides in the division meet when Hakoah FC host Northern Tigers at Hensley Athletic.
Hakoah Fc have had an inconsistent run of form of late defeated by Blacktown Spartans in round 25, while Northern Tigers returned to winning ways with victory over Dunbar Rovers.
Not much has changed since we last touched on Hakoah FC in a preview. On 29 points, they remain three games ahead of Mounties Wanderers in 15th position as they look to finish the season well.
Their last couple of wins have come at Hensley Athletic so they will be hoping home advantage comes into play here. Last weekend was a tough one however, going down to Blacktown Spartans despite Yianni Spyrakis finding the back of the net from the spot.
And it won’t get much easier for the hosts when Northern Tigers come to visit. Winning four of their last five, they passed the 40-point mark last weekend and sit in 5th position on the table.
On field however, it isn’t quite going to plan for the Tigers who aren’t quite performing at their best on field. Kai Denton continues his prolific goal scoring up front while Ahmed Sweedan has proved to add life to their attack.
Bankstown City FC v Mounties Wanderers FC; Saturday 29 July, 7pm, Jensen Park
An interesting clash at the other end, Mounties Wanderers make the short journey to Bankstown City needing a result.
The visitors have lost momentum in recent weeks and fell to a 1-0 defeat to Macarthur last weekend, while Bankstown City come into this one on the back of a 3-3 draw last weekend with SD Raiders.
Bankstown City showed a good amount of heart with their result last weekend coming back from two goals down at half time.
Sitting in 10th position, they could overtake Rydalmere Lions with a victory here. If they are to do so, Jonathan Grozdanovski could well play a key part after a brace off the bench last weekend.
Time for a response? Sitting in 15th position with five rounds remaining, a response is more than needed from Mounties Wanderers.
Last week in a game that was winnable, they walked away with nothing. With a bit of good fortune here, they could well bounce back and put pressure on Dunbar above them.
An important one for Mounties Wanderers, you can catch this on NPL.TV Saturday evening.
Rydalmere Lions FC v Dulwich Hill FC; Saturday 29 July, 7pm, Rydalmere Park
Just four points separate these two sides after 25 rounds, so who will prevail out of Rydalmere Lions and Dulwich Hill.
Rydalmere Lions were left heartbroken by a late St George FC goal to consign them to defeat last weekend, while Dulwich Hill held their own against Hills United.
Despite going down last weekend, there was a lot to like about Rydalmere Lions. In 9th place, the table doesn’t tell the full story for Anthony Harbs side.
However, it is against the sides below them in which they have found life a bit more difficult. Nonetheless, look out for the likes of Adil Toska and Nikola Pintur in this one.
Dulwich Hill on the other hand will be encouraged after taking a point from the league leaders last weekend. Sitting in 13th position on 28 points, you could argue that one more positive result will ensure safety for Tony Valvanis and his side who are down on personnel in recent weeks.
Hills United FC v Blacktown Spartans FC; Saturday 29 July, 7pm, Landen Stadium
Under a bit of pressure from Bonnyrigg White Eagles, Hills United face Blacktown Spartans looking to maintain their lead at the top.
The hosts secured an away point against Dulwich Hill last weekend but were left wondering if it could’ve been more, while the Spartans prevailed over Hakoah FC.
Their fate still in their hands, Hills United will be looking to a positive home record to get them a result this weekend.
Seven points in their last three games, they were somewhat perplexed by their draw last weekend. Jamal Belkadi got an important equaliser but it could’ve been more. They’ll look to go into their round 27 clash with St George in form.
They come up against a team with a very good away record in Blacktown Spartans. With 22 points in 13 games, only Bonnyrigg have taken more points away from home this season.
Spartans put in a good performance against Hakoah last weekend with Jordan Metcalfe and Riley Chapple scoring. They will be without Daniel Durkin though who picked up a red card.
Dunbar Rovers FC v Canterbury Bankstown FC; Saturday 29 July, 7pm, Fraser Park
Both teams need the three points as Dunbar Rovers host Canterbury Bankstown at Fraser Park on Saturday night.
Dunbar Rovers were valiant in their defeat to Northern Tigers, while Canterbury Bankstown tasted defeat for just the second time at home this season against Inter Lions.
Results elsewhere helped Dunbar Rovers in 14th position who have a four-point gap to Mounties Wanderers below them.
Last weekend they competed well with Northern Tigers nearly staging a second half comeback. Paul Gautier and Lucas Brandow Vidal scored in that one so they can be our players to watch here.
Their visitors Canterbury Bankstown endured a tough week coinciding with round 25 of the competition. A loss as well as three points being awarded elsewhere saw them slip behind in the race for the top two.
So, this week it’s about putting that behind them quickly and stringing some wins together. Who knows what could happen from there? They are one of the competitions best sides away from home, winning seven of their twelve games.
Inter Lions FC v Macarthur Rams FC; Saturday 29 July, 7pm, Majors Bay Reserve
In form Inter Lions host Macarthur Rams at Majors Bay Reserve in another intriguing fixture, Saturday night.
Inter Lions have won their last two games including a big win against Canterbury Bankstown last week. While Macarthur Rams did enough to see off Mounties Wanderers in their round 25 fixture.
Back-to-back victories including one over a top four side last weekend, Inter Lions have given themselves a bit of a gap over teams below them on the table, sitting just short of 40 points, it’s a respectable showing for their first season in League One.
Standouts in that game were the trio of Ben Morrison, Sam Armson and Owen Duke who were all credited for their tireless work against the Berries. While coach John Theo will make his way to the dugout ahead of the Australia Cup.
They face a Macarthur Rams side who passed the 30-point tally for their season. It should be enough to seal their status in League One but they’ll want to finish well.
Last weekend they snapped a three-game losing streak with victory over Mounties Wanderers. It was a real battle with both sides going full throttle, Anthony Proia’s goal separating the two sides. They could potentially jump Bankstown City and Rydalmere with a win here.
By Justin Smith